Everyone feels sad now and again. Feeling sad is a natural response and most of the time, these feelings pass on their own. But when you have depression, these feelings of sadness don’t go away. They can be much more intense and overwhelming. But how do you know the difference between just feeling very sad and being depressed?
What are the Signs of Depression?
It’s important to remember that the symptoms of depression vary from person to person. But some of the most common signs that you have depression include:
- Feeling sad or hopeless regularly
- Changes to your sleep pattern, like sleeping too much or not being able to sleep
- Changes to your appetite
- Feeling angry or irritable
- Wanting to be alone more often
- Feeling lonely or isolated
- Feeling sick or getting stomach aches
- Not enjoying things that used to make you happy
- Difficulty concentrating
- Anxiety or worry
- Suicidal thoughts
When you have depression, you might have feelings of worthlessness and like you are a burden to people around you. It can make enjoyment difficult and you might struggle to find the motivation to do things. Even things like spending time with friends and family or taking part in hobbies can be challenging.
Causes of Depression
The cause of depression can depend on a variety of things. Some of the most common causes include:
- Having a family history of depression or mental health issues
- Going through a stressful experience, like losing someone close to you or abuse
- Being bullied or experiencing social isolation at school
- Having difficulties with school, like struggling in class or with studying
- Dealing with a serious health condition, like cancer
- Alcohol or drug abuse
Sometimes, it’s not clear what the cause of your depression is. It can affect anyone and it’s not a sign of weakness. There can be many triggers for this condition.
How Can I Be Depressed and Not Know It?
Because a lot of people don’t know what the symptoms of depression are, it’s common for them to be depressed and not realise. You might have been feeling low for such a long time that it’s become normal for you. This can make it difficult to identify the signs of depression.
If you’ve been depressed for a while, it can feel normal to feel sad and upset. If your symptoms have developed slowly, it can be hard to pinpoint when they started. This can make it difficult to recognise that things aren’t like they used to be.
When you have low self-esteem, it’s easy to dismiss how you feel. You might believe that it’s just how you are or that you can’t get better. Some people even feel like they aren’t worthy of feeling better or that they deserve to feel this way.
Another reason why you might not know you have depression is that you’ve grown up with the belief that asking for help is a sign of weakness. This can cause people to hide their symptoms or brush them off as unimportant.
If you’re unsure if you have depression or just a bout of sadness, there are ways to check. Firstly, look at how long you’ve been feeling this way. If you’ve been feeling low for several weeks or longer, it might be worth speaking to your doctor. You can also look at how intense the feeling is. Is it affecting your life in a massive way? Are you struggling to do things because of how you’re feeling? If you are, it could be a sign of depression.
Treatment for Depression
Whatever the reason for you feeling sad, it’s important to take care of yourself. You are worthy of feeling happy and healthy. There is plenty of support available for people with depression. And there are different options for treating this condition too. There are also ways that you can help yourself by taking part in self-care.
Speak to your Doctor
The first step to recovery is to talk to your doctor. They will be able to offer advice and let you know about the different treatment options available to you. They might prescribe medication or counselling. Or a combination of the two might be a good option for your needs. Talking to your doctor about these things can be tricky. But they are there to help you and they’ve heard from many people in a similar situation. So, they will understand.
Tell Someone You Trust
Sharing your problems can often feel like a relief. So, if there’s someone in your life that you can talk to, it’s a good idea to let them know what’s going on. Your parents or a sibling might be a good choice. Or you can talk to a friend. They will be able to support you through your depression, and help you find additional help if needed.
Reach out to Support Groups
Having the support of others is important when you’re dealing with depression. There are organisations and support groups that can help with this. Helplines like the Samaritans or PAPYRUS are on hand to listen when you need to get things off your chest. There are also mental health forums where you can chat to young people in a similar situation. There’s also the Youth Wellbeing Directory which lists local mental health services for young people.
Although depression may make you want to be alone and stay in bed all day, it’s important to make the effort to help yourself. Get outside and get fresh air. You can also combine this with exercise, which helps to boost endorphins which make us feel happier. A regular routine can also help. Try going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, and make sure to eat three meals a day.
Find an Outlet for Your Feelings
Documenting how you feel can help you to feel more positive. Try journalling each day, either when you first wake up or before bed. It can also help to jot down three positive things or things you are grateful for. You can also keep track of triggers that make you feel worse, so you can aim to manage them in the future.
Feeling sad all the time can be overwhelming. But help is available to help you get back to feeling good about yourself and your situation. Whatever the reason is for you feeling low, it’s important to remember that there are people who can help you get back on track. Through taking small, manageable steps, you can begin your road to recovery.